Pawlet Scholarship Committee raising funds

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MANCHESTER — When a Pawlet student goes off to college, they may feel like they've got their entire community behind them.

That's because since 1995, over $400,000 in scholarship funds have been awarded to residents of Pawlet and West Pawlet by the Pawlet Scholarship Committee. Though the scholarship is administered by a select group of volunteers, the Committee's annual Art on Edie's Green fundraiser, returning this year on August 19, has aimed to broaden community involvement in the scholarship for the past two decades.

"The Committee has been active for 21 years, and this will be our 20th year of doing Art on the Green," said Heidi Hammell, a member of the Scholarship Committee and an employee of the Mettawee Community School. "Our scholarship funds are derived from the interest on investments made by Jane Rinck, and this fundraiser is a great way to supplement that." The annual Art on Edie's Green event brings together community members and local artists at the edge of Pawlet's Flower Brook, with participating artists donating 20% of their proceeds from the event.

"It not only helps to increase our community awareness, but it also helps to support the Arts," said Hammell. "That was an important thing for Jane and other community members."

This year over 20 artists will flock to Edie's Green, and the fundraiser will feature a variety of mediums and styles. The Committee will continue to accept applications from local artists until the celebration kicks off on Saturday, August 19.

"It's a nice way for neighbors to come and see each other while supporting our students and adults that are looking to further their education," said Hammell. "This has always been an arts rich area, so it's nice to support our local artists too."

The event starts at 10 a.m. on the morning of August 19, and will continue until 3 p.m. The fundraiser will be catered by Pawlet local Helen Wood of Rupert Mountain Roost, who will be serving lunch right on Edie's field. Live musical entertainment will continue throughout the day.

"The weather has always been beautiful for us, so it's a nice place to just come and hang out for the day," said Hammell. "We don't really have a community center per se in Pawlet, so this is a nice way for us to raise funds but also thank our community and give back to them."

Pawlet's Scholarship Committee has made giving back to the community a top priority, supporting both graduating high school students and adults looking to further their education.

"We're supporting Pawlet and it's future, as well as Vermont's future. We know that education is important," said Hammell. "We're not a wealthy community, so that support for education really makes a difference."

For scholarship recipient Jill Brooks, that community support is meaningful in many ways.

"I feel extremely grateful and privileged that I live in a community that has the ability and the generosity to offer a scholarship to help me and other local students pursue our goals," said Brooks, in a statement provided to the Scholarship Committee. "For me, that means studying biology and human impact on the environment at the University of Vermont."

Pawlet's support for its adult students can also have a positive benefit on the community, making career transitions more achievable for many.

"This award was helpful in more ways than just being able to have funding towards tuition and for necessary expenses," said recipient Rich Marantz, who used the scholarship funds to earn his Associate's Degree in Nursing from Castleton University. "Knowing my community supported me in my late-in-life endeavor was an incredible motivator to succeed against heavy odds."

"Essentially, support from the Pawlet Scholarship Committee enabled me to take the first step towards the creation of my own business by sending me to school," said Julie Sperling, co-founder of the Naga Bakehouse in Middletown Springs. "The skills that I learned there have served me well and have allowed me to create a family run small business that has completely supported my family in the ensuing years."

For Hammell, the Committee's support of local students over the last two decades is a fitting way to honor Rinck's vision and generosity.

"I think a lot of our students wouldn't be able to follow their dreams of furthering their education without us," said Hammell. "We want our students to know that their goals are not just being supported by their families; they've got the larger community behind them as well."

For more information, or to apply as a participating artist, visit www.pawletscholarships.wordpress.com.

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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